Re: Acts 17:18

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Aug 08 1997 - 07:19:32 EDT

At 7:17 AM -0400 8/8/97, Rick Strelan wrote:
>Acts 17:18: XENWN DAIMONIWN .. KATAGGELEUS. What kind of genitive?
>Usually it is understood to mean: a preacher of = about foreign deities.
>But could it not (also) mean a preacher of = from, or belonging to, foreign
>deities? Is APOSTOLOS XRISTOU IHSOU parallel?

When a genitive is not ablatival or partitive, it is really a structural
rather than a semantic case; that is to say, it simply links one
substantive to another. While we can catalogue a number of common usages of
this structural case, there is no formal difference between a "subjective"
and an "objective" genitive: the "love of God" may be the love we have for
God or the love God has for us--the form itself cannot determine which
sense is best assumed in a particular instance and one must seek clues from
the context, and ambiguity is often characteristic of expressions like that
in Acts 17:18 and the phrase about which we have recurrent discussions,

I would answer Rick's last question with a strong "yes"--but add that in
the case of APOSTOLOS CRISTOU IHSOU we are also at a loss to assert
definitively that the phrase means "missionary sent by Christ Jesus" rather
than "missionary belonging to Christ Jesus" or "missionary proclaiming
Christ Jesus." Having said that, however, I have to say also that I don't
think in this instance it makes much difference whether we try to explain
the construction of the genitive as the OBJECT of the verbal element in
KATAGGELEUS or as the POSSESSOR of the person referred to by KATAGGELEUS. I
think this is a rather neat illustration of a point which (I think?) Clay
Bartholomew has been trying to make: that in some grammatical
categories--certainly in this genitive--the category is structural rather
than semantic.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243 OR

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